Migrant Workers Worth Billions to Mobile Money Transfer Companies

By October 08, 2008

The rapidly growing area of international money transfers via mobile phone could reach a level of 100 million users by 2013. A recent study from Juniper Research examined the potential for support of this mobile technology over the next few years by the remittance system of migrant workers. This system is already in place with more traditional means of wire and bank transfers. Much of the money traffic backtracks the migration routes of the Philippines to the Middle East, and of Mexico to the United States. The study's author, Howard Wilcox explains: "The vast increase in migrant workers globally has fueled the number of remittances being sent home to friends and families regularly. The mobile phone will become a vital enabler in developing countries because often many more people have phones than have bank accounts. The [Global System for Mobile communications] Association Mobile Money Transfer global initiative emphasizes the importance that is attached to this across the mobile industry as a whole."

While the infrastructure is being built, much of the hurdle for implementation will be on the user side. In the mobile application market, much of the phone's functionality is limited by individuals' familiarity and comfort-level with those functions. But as users become more accustomed to this process, mobile international transfers are forecast to grow in frequency, exceeding one per month by 2013 on average globally.

The 2.8 billion mobile phone users will create a tremendous revenue for the companies that are springing up to provide this service, and those numbers increase by the millions every day. This opportunity is projected to exceed $5 billion by 2013, and by 2030 could reach a value of $72 trillion, an astronomical sum.

Companies like Budapest's Secure Mobile Payment Service (SEMOPS) is based on bank accounts and operated by mobile network operators (mobile plan providers). As a large consumer base and market are developed, users have full access regardless of bank or provider. Affinity Global Services of Dallas places an emphasis on providing financial services to those who do not have bank accounts. Both companies emphasize the empowering of disadvantaged, specifically migrant, individuals with accessible mobile technology.

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